Blaze Pizza is an innovative pizzeria that allows you to create-your-own pizza featuring an interactive open kitchen format that allows guests to customize one of the menu’s generously-sized signature pizzas or create their own, all for one price. Each ingredient and recipe has been perfected by critically acclaimed Executive Chef Bradford Kent (“The Pizza Whisperer”).
His skills and love for making pizza has been transferred to Blaze Pizza. The concept of fast-fired, ready in minutes, handmade to the customer’s preference is working and producing delectable pizzas.
Recently, we met him at Blaze Pizza’s grand opening in Riyadh where we sat down for a quick interview
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
As a very young child, I loved to cook and I started cooking professionally when I was in college studying business. From my business experience, I decided to open my own food business and I haven’t looked back. So I’ve been in the food business professionally for over 30 years.
What’s your culinary specialty?
My specialty I would say is Pizza (chuckles).
My goal when I started with the food business was to become an expert in this field. I’ve gone onto getting the education in food science and culinary arts from two different colleges. To think that I’m going to become an expert in food was a ridiculous dream because food is an enormous discipline. You can become an expert in cheese; you can become an expert in olive oil or you can become an expert in the dough. I chose to be an expert in pizza. So I know enough about cheese, about the dough… it’s like a being a doctor; there is a general practitioner and there is a specialist. So I’m a general practitioner of pizza.
Do you have anybody else in your family who was in the food business as well?
Philosophically speaking, in my family, there’s good musical talent, there is good artistic talent and then there’s engineering. When you combine engineering, music and art, ideally the best medium is food. Because food is chemistry.
What sets the Blaze Signature Pizza apart from the other pizzas we’ll find in the dining scene?
We don’t make pizzas in a conveyor oven which makes it different. We have a water filtration system because 50 % of the dough is water. Selecting the right oven, designing the right dough for that oven, picking the right cheese for it because if i selected a different cheese that doesn’t have the same quality, that won’t work in that oven because that oven cooks it in a certain way. So you have to think about everything as an ingredient – including your staff. The staff we have are not chefs. We train for personality only and what we want them to do is follow our lead so there is consistency. Everything at Blaze has been so selected and so designed that anybody can do it.
We have about 300 restaurants around the world and all these restaurants have the same training, the dough press and pretty much the same products used every single day. There’s only one chef for all of the Blaze restaurants, and that’s me. This is why we have consistency. Everything is done my way and so everything tastes the same.
We make sure our ingredients are fresh and not processed so that when our customers leave the restaurant their stomachs don’t hurt, they don’t get heartburn and feel stuffed. Every bit of the blaze experience from stepping into the restaurant and leaving it, impacts your decision to come back.
How would you describe your passion for pizza in just one line?
My passion is offering food that feeds people’s souls and we can’t do it any other way.
How would you describe the palate of Saudis when it comes to Pizza? Are there any creations that will be available in the Kingdom
This is where I relied on AlShaya’s expertise in the region to help educate me. It wasn’t just a matter of coming into the country and saying, “okay here are the ingredients and here are the recipes”. I wanted to understand people. I care what goes into my body and I think others are like minded. Andrew was kind enough to take me out to taste the food in the region. We visited all the restaurants and not specifically the competitors because I wanted to see what people were eating. Frankly speaking, I was a little upset because the quality of imported food here was not as good as you deserved. The quality gets affected when you ship ingredients from abroad in a frozen container.
We took things to a different level choosing from a wide selection of fresh, clean ingredients and having consistency, and that is not always easy to find in pizza. I hoping that it will resonate with the people here and they value the freshness, deliciousness, impactful flavors, honesty, and trust.